Federal budget promises $2.2 billion for Metro Vancouver transit

The funds were welcomed by the TransLink mayors' council on regional transportation

In its 2017 budget, the federal government has promised $20.1 billion in funding for public transit, to be divvied up over the next 11 years, and to eliminate the public transit tax credit.

That’s $2.2 billion for transportation projects in Metro Vancouver, the mayor’s council on regional transportation said.

The budget, released Wednesday afternoon, the federal government will dole out funds to each province using a formula of 70 per cent on ridership and 30 per cent on population.

In addition, another $5 billion in funding will come from the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

The public transit tax will also be nixed, effective June 30.

“Available evidence suggests that this credit has been ineffective in encouraging the use of public transit and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” the budget reads.

The budget noted recent projects in the Lower Mainland, including the six station additions to the Vancouver Broadway station, as “ambitious” projects and ones that this funding will support as construction moves to the next phases.

Mayors’ council on regional transportation said they welcome the proposed funds.

“Today’s historic federal investment in transit and transportation is a game-changer for our region and the largest in Metro Vancouver in 20 years,” council chair and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a press release.

The estimated contribution from the government’s Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF) builds upon an initial commitment of $370 million for local transit projects in 2016, which at a combined total of almost $2.6 billion marks the single largest federal investment in Metro Vancouver transportation in at least 20 years.

“TransLink is doing great work in rolling out the first phase of the 10-Year Vision which is adding more bus, SkyTrain and SeaBus service region-wide this year, but these new services are playing catch up from years of under-investment,” said Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, vice-chair of the mayors’ council.

“With today’s federal budget, we are closer than ever to putting shovels in the ground for Surrey LRT and the Broadway subway so we can move more people around our growing region on transit.

The council says it can now move forward in negotiations with the provincial government to secure matching funds for Phase Two of the 10-Year Vision for Metro Vancouver Transit and Transportation, which includes construction of the Millennium Line Broadway Extension in Vancouver and the Surrey LRT, as well as increased service on existing SkyTrain lines, continued expansion of bus service in every corner of the region, and new funding for major roads, walking and cycling infrastructure.

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